MLA IB in Academic Libraries Discussion Group
ALA Midwinter
Saturday, January 20, 2007
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Hotel Andra: Ballroom
Seattle, WA

Agenda Item 1: What's New at the MLA International Bibliography:
Barbara Chen, Director of Bibliographic Services & Editor, MLA IB


Agenda Item 2: ABES vs. ABELL vs. MLAIB:
Laura Fuderer & Michaelyn Burnette

Fuderer interwove her demonstrations of ABES and ABELL with information that she gives students during library instruction. She tells them there are three "big indexes" for researching literatures in English: ABES, ABELL, and MLAIB. Fuderer explains to students the distinction between primary and secondary sources because this can help them figure out which database they might want to use, and it determines what sort of search operators to use (Boolean for citations, proximity for full-text).

Coverage of publications in literary studies, film studies, cultural studies and language and linguistics. ABES does not attempt to be comprehensive in coverage–rather, it specifically selects items the editors believe are core or most appropriate ("the best") for an undergraduate audience. Each entry contains an annotation which helps the student determine if the item might be pertinent to their needs. Dates covered for each source varies, but the earliest noted is 1902. Fuderer points to the ability of limiting searches either to the Primary and Secondary indices, which is a unique feature in searching ABES. The option of linking to local holdings is not possible. ABES has not been updated since 2004, so the material covered is not current. The interface is outdated and contains none of the bells or whistles available through those provided by the major vendors. ABES exists only in electronic format. It currently has over 31,000 entries. [post meeting update: ABES is moving to Routledge this year and will narrow its scope to the literary]

ABELL (ProQuest):
Default search is for full-text of nearly 200 journals--it's recommended when showing ABELL to undergraduates that the search full text option be deselected with an explanation of the difference between searching an index and searching full-text. She explains that ABELL and MLAIB overlap to an extent (an older study shows at least 60%), and ABELL picks up book reviews which MLAIB does not. The MLAIB tries to cover all modern languages (she calls it "the mother of all literary bibliographies"), while ABELL covers language and literatures originally written in English. The annual paper version began in 1920, but there are 240 items published between 1884 and 1919. ABELL has over 880,000 records. ABELL contains reviews of scholarly books, which MLAIB includes very selectively. Links to holdings are available. Only covers literature originally written in English, though there are references to other writers if they are included in a publication about a writer in English.

Good tip for convincing students to search MLAIB over JSTOR or Project Muse–note the number of journals covered in each to point out the limitations of JSTOR or PM over MLAIB. Over two million entries. For thorough coverage of scholarship, use both MLAIB and ABELL, especially since MLAIB coverage, at least until 1956, tended to be of works written by U. S. scholars.


Agenda Item 3: Vendor Updates:

Thomson-Gale: Peg Knight (formerly Bessette)

The presentation focused on our new user interface, slated for Summer 2007, along with new features coming with our Summer 2007 platform migration. If anyone would like further information, please contact Product Manager Mary Onorato:

EBSCO: Beth Wright

Domain change; new features link; ability to add local "ask a librarian" link; "auto complete"–which helps with spelling issues; basic interface changes; new literature service–"LRC" to add to Humanities International Complete.

ProQuest: Mary Saur Gaines

Adding more terms to browse lists; addition of the 13-digit ISBNs; JSTOR links and PM links enabled.

CSA: Allan Golden

Major re-vamping of the interface since last year; refining searching within searching via a left-hand menu option; CSA Illustrata–images of journals with tables & figures; these will be indexed and searchable within the arts & humanities databases.


Minutes taken by Faye Christenberry, University of Washington